2022 entry

MA Scottish Literature and Scottish History

UCAS code: QV22

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Scottish Literature and Scottish History

Studying Scottish Literature and Scottish History helps us understand the world in which we live now, as well as shedding light on the past. It prepares you to contribute to a society in which an understanding of texts of all kinds is crucially important.

This programme aims to develop your critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills by engaging with a broad range of texts and a variety of approaches to reading. Studying the human past, you will interact with evidence in primary form, and through sceptical reading of a wide body of historical writing.

Scottish History

With a particular emphasis on the history of Scotland, the Edinburgh experience is distinctive for the range of historical themes and chronological periods you can study using a variety of different intellectual approaches to the past.

Scottish Literature

You will explore the cultural contexts of all major periods of Scottish literature from the late Middle Ages to the present.

Why Edinburgh

We are the oldest department of English Literature in the UK, one of the longest established in the world.

Edinburgh is the first UNESCO World City of Literature, a fantastic historic and literary city which many greats of Scottish literature have called home.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this programme is its flexibility.

This means that in Years 1 and 2, you'll choose option courses drawn from a broad list of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Scottish Literature and Scottish History.

This may enable you to change the focus of your programme in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Year 1

Scottish Literature

You will take two Literary Studies courses which will introduce you to the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of the core literary genres of:

  • poetry

  • drama

  • prose

You will read works of literature written in English from around the world, and encounter a range of ideas about the nature and purpose of literary study.

Scottish History

You will take:

  • a course on the history of Edinburgh from the Iron Age to the present day

  • a compulsory course in historical skills that engages with broader questions about the nature of history as an academic discipline and the methods and skills required for historical research

Option courses

You will choose from a wide range of option courses.

These include - but are not limited to - courses in:

  • business

  • politics

  • social policy

  • economics

  • art and architectural history

  • classics

  • archaeology

  • philosophy

  • linguistic

  • modern languages

  • Celtic

  • Scottish Ethnology

Year 2

Scottish Literature

You will be introduced to the study of Scottish literature in its cultural and historical contexts, focusing on a selection of major periods.

These courses will explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

Scottish History

You will take a course on historiography and one that provides a wide-ranging overview of the history of Scotland from the early modern period to the 20th century.

Option courses

As in Year 1, you will choose from a range of option courses.

Year 3

You can start to specialise, and choose courses that explore different periods, topics and approaches according to your area of interest.

Year 4

You will choose further courses according to your areas of interest and write an independent dissertation.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2021/22)

Our facilities

Teaching takes place in and around the University of Edinburgh's Central Area.

The University has excellent computing and audiovisual resources, support services and social spaces, including many in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures and School of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Events and activities

With multiple student societies for literature, drama and history enthusiasts, our community has lots to offer, including:

  • reading and writers' groups

  • poetry slams

  • creative writing magazines

  • guest seminars

  • a thriving Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme (LitPALS)

  • a fantastic Writer-in-Residence

Annual student writing prizes include awards for prose and verse in Lowland Scots vernacular.

Scottish Literature in Edinburgh city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city, the first UNESCO World City of Literature and home of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Outstanding libraries, collections and literary venues include the:

  • National Library of Scotland

  • Scottish Poetry Library

  • Writers' Museum

  • Scottish Storytelling Centre

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 through the University's international exchange programme.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures

  • tutorials

  • seminars

You will be expected to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for Scottish Literature classes.

How will I be assessed?

Your progress will be assessed through:

  • close reading exercises

  • essays

  • assignments

  • exams

You will receive prompt feedback on all your coursework to help you improve as you progress.

The skills you'll develop on our programmes, including the ability to think critically and work independently and to deadline, are essential in many careers.

We have great links with the Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we'll encourage you to identify and hone your skills, including through initiatives such as Life After Lit, which allow you to draw inspiration from our graduates.

Many of our graduates have gone on to work in:

  • publishing

  • advertising

  • arts and events management

  • the creative, cultural, heritage and tourism industries

  • teaching

  • the media

Some have used their transferable skills to pursue careers in finance and business, while others have moved into creative writing, which we teach as an option throughout the undergraduate years, supported by our Writer-in-Residence.

There are also opportunities to continue studying at postgraduate level, with the honours years in particular developing the research skills you'll need if you choose this path.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: English at B.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B.
  • IB: HL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • SQA Intermediate 1 at A
  • SQA Intermediate 2 at C
  • GCSE/IGSCE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate Grade C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition) 92 or above with 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Scottish Literature and Scottish History

Additional costs

There may be additional costs if you choose to study abroad in Year 3.


For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding